Saturday, May 31, 2008

Unique Iconic Monstrance--World's Largest--to Be Unveiled at Divine Mercy Shrine, Chicago

An in-progress view of the monstrance; it has since been extensively gilded and painted.

Today will be marked by a significant event in the new revival of Eucharistic Adoration, the unveiling of the new Iconic Monstrance for Chicago's proposed Shrine of the Divine Mercy, which when finished will itself be a significant work of new traditional architecture. The vision of Fr. Anthony Bus, CR, (pronounced Bush) pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Chicago, the monstrance and shrine have also received significant support from His Eminence Cardinal George, who will celebrate the dedication mass today.

The massive gilt-wood monstrance is widely thought to be the largest in the world, standing at 9 feet and weighing in at 900 pounds. It is the work pf Stefan Niedorezo, with gilding and conservation done by Malgorzata Sawczuk. The design is original, though not unprecedented, drawing on eastern images of Our Lady of the Sign and numerous other theological, iconographic and scriptural sources. It consists of a half-length sculpture of an orante Virgin Mary that serves as the backdrop for a foot-wide luna surrounded by rays and a crown of thorns. The statue is flanked by angels, and raised on a base resembling the Ark of the Covenant.

The overall design serves to bridge the gap between the Old and New Covenants in its symbolism. While similar fusions of Marian-Eucharistic symbolism are not unknown, the richness of the iconic monstrance springs from a unique call Fr. Bus says he received from the Virgin Mary to open up a shrine to the Divine Mercy in Chicago's inner city, detailed in his recently-updated book A Mother's Plea: Lifting the Veil in the Sanctuary. The former vice-postulator of St. Faustina Kowalska's canonization cause, Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, has served as a theological consultant on the project. The result is, to my knowledge, the only monstrance of its kind in terms of scale, overall composition and richness of theological-iconographic refinement; it is also unique in its permanent location at the heart of a soon-to-be-built adoration chapel of equal iconographic complexity.

Unfortunately, time constraints on this end prevent me from writing at greater length right now on on this extraordinary subject. I hope to return to it after the dedication, which will be broadcast om EWTN live at 5 p.m. central time, and on the Latin America station, El Sembrador. Relevant Radio is also covering the event.

More information can be found here, and here. After it is unveiled, planners intend to begin raising the $15-$20 million required for the adoration chapel and complex which will house the monstrance.

UPDATE: An image of the monstrance as it will stand in situ in the proposed shrine (which will include a very fine ciborium magnum) can be found here.

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